Moving towards the problem.Acts 6:1-7:
‘In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’ 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.’NIV
As we saw yesterday, when the church is growing, and in particular when this growth is unusually prolific, you can EXPECT PROBLEMS. These difficulties will take different forms from church to church, context to context, and age to age. But they will arise. Good leadership moves towards problems and not away from them. Today, we will look at two essential moves made by the apostles in this time of tension, and we can learn from what they did:
ESTABLISH PRIORITIES (2, 4): The apostles had a clear sense of what they needed to be concentrating on and they would not be diverted. Neither, though, were they willing to bury their heads in the sand and just hope the problem would go away. You can only sweep things under the carpet for so long. There had to be a way to keep their own focus, and yet deal with this potentially harmful eruption at the same time, and they figured it out. I believe all pastors should be committed to the twin priorities of prayer and Bible study. Many other (necessary) administrative tasks will devour these precious and delightful duties if we allow them to. So we have to carefully guard our time against all the urgent demands that would steal away our best hours for prayerful study. Churches should also do their utmost to help their pastors remain true to their essential calling. The church loses when its shepherds neglect the Word and prayer.
ENGAGE THE CONGREGATION (3- 6): The leaders did not abdicate their responsibilities. They thought through the parameters and presented them to the church, entrusting the congregation with the significant task of choosing the right men for the job. Thus leaders and led moved forward in a respectful, trust-filled atmosphere, and the result was even more growth. I was thinking about this as I lay back in the hygienist’s chair this afternoon. My only real fear when at the dentist’s (or hygienists) is of inhaling the water being sprayed into my mouth. The thought forcibly hit me this afternoon that I am afraid because I don’t sufficiently trust the suction instrument. I thought, ‘Yes, and how many leaders in the church don’t really trust the wisdom God has placed in the body of Christ?’ We will find many wonderful ideas and solutions within the local church. May God forgive us that we don’t always realise this and act on it.